Graham’s World 3/25/2014

Hi, this is Graham R. Gnome bringing you another blog article for the Grammar 4 Writers website.

This blog includes tips on getting the most bang for your buck with the website along with other items of interest to writers.


Great Sentences – Break Down

“Above the plain rose the hill, above the hill rose the barrow, and above the barrow rose the figure. Above the figure was nothing that could be mapped elsewhere than on a celestial globe.”

Thomas Hardy, Return of the Native (1878)

Grammar Breakdown

  • Sentence 1 – Compound sentence
    • Three independent clauses joined by a comma and conjunction
    • Each independent clause has inverted sentence order – verb followed by subject at the end of the sentence
      • E.g. verb= rose   subject = hill
  • Sentence 2 – Complex sentence
    • Independent clause with inverted sentence order, verb = rose subject = nothing
    • Dependent clause, an adjective modifying nothing = that could be mapped…

Rhetoric Breakdown – (because long Greek names are fun)

  • Isocolon – succession of phrases similar length with parallel structure
  • Paraprosdokian – unexpected shift in meaning at the end, in each construction something rises above the previous thing, in the last construction NOTHING rises above except the stars
  • Anaphora – repetition of an opening phrase or word, “above the”
  • Repetition – of key word “rose”

Discussion – What does the use of the verb “rose” suggest to the reader? The author could have used “is.” In other words, what nuances in meaning does the choice of this verb bring to these sentences?


Website Writing Spotlight: Prepositional Phrases –Composition Activity

Perfect for teaching Common Core language standard L11-12.1.a

“Apply the understanding that usage is a matter of convention, can change over time, and is sometimes contested.”

The composition activity for prepositional phrases teaches students that English language conventions change over time. A long-held rule of English grammar is never to end a sentence with a preposition. However as it turns out, English has many situations that require a preposition at the end of the sentence. This composition activity has students write one paragraph with examples of prepositions used correctly at the end of sentences followed by a second paragraph with the same meaning but no prepositions at the end. The second paragraph will demonstrate the difficult and unclear constructions that result when you stick blindly to this rule.

Really tricky grammar issues: Can you end a sentence with a preposition? Yes!

This myth is a leftover from the 18th century when authors and scholars were learning Latin grammar and trying to apply its rules to English. In Latin, a rule held that you should never end a sentence with a “weak” word like a preposition, so actually, even in Latin, it was a rhetoric rule not a grammar rule, and in English it just doesn’t work at all. In English it is sometimes preferable and even necessary to have the preposition at the end of the sentence.

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Posted in common core standards, Education, grammar, teaching writing, writing

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